The blog is not finished! But after the Theft (yes, capital letters), the want/need to update the blog took second fiddle to dealing with the Theft and just finishing the trip sans computer. Since being home, it's been hard to get that motivation to complete it. But I will. Ever so slowly. Please be patient!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Bohemian in Morocco

The following takes place on Days 180-183, May 26-29, 2011

With Marrakech behind us, Kelly, Jaime, and I grabbed an early bus out to Essaouira. The bus ride itself was pretty comfortable and actually on time. You could tell it was meant for tourists as there was maybe 2 or 3 locals out of the 45 seats that were full. When we arrived, we had the regular issue of dealing with the hoard of people who were either trying to get you to stay at their hostel/hotel, or to take a taxi with them. We had already booked a place so we rushed passed these guys and to the street to grab a taxi of our own.

IMG_7231Essaouira is a far cry from Fez and Marrakech. It’s a seaside village and, if I go by the information given to me by one guy I met, it was one of the first ports in Morocco to receive items from the New World. It’s famous mainly for its beaches, its surfing, and the really laid back attitude of its residents. Considering such famous people like Orson Welles and Jimmy Hendrix is purported to have spent time here, it’s also got a bit of a bohemian/hippy feel to it as well.

Thankfully, the hostel we had booked at had really detailed information as to how to get to IMG_7220them through the medina. So, after being dropped off at the gate “Bab Marrakech,” Kelly and Jaime fell in line behind me as I used my superhuman powers of navigation to find our way. Not to brag or anything, but I definitely find I have an innate ability to look at a map or set of instructions once or twice and not get lost. I love landmarks("The blue house, or the pub with the scary looking seahorse as a symbol). We managed to skirt by all the touts hawking their hotels or promising a “free” guide to hour hostel, and found it on our own. It really is the small victories.

The hostel did nothing to dispel the whole bohemian/hippy nature of the town, and that is not a bad thing. The owner that greeted us was this great man who was so laid back that he said “Go put your bags in your room, have a nap, settle, rest. We’ll deal with the registration and checking in later.” We even managed to sign up for the supper that was being prepared that night in the hostel.

IMG_7226The medina of Essaouira is tiny compared to Fez and Marrakech. But that’s to be expected. And being a seaside town, the residents and shop keepers were much more chilled out and relaxed. It was rare here to be hounded by the shop keeps. A friendly “La, shokram” was enough of a response. I love hippies. Moroccan hippies no less!

And, being a seaside town, there is of course the need to visit the port with it’s many fishing boats and locals buying fresh fish. Fish fresh enough that some were still flopping around. Cats were everywhere here, officially helping the stereotype that cats love fish. The smell wasIMG_7243 a bit much for me. I love seafood for the most part, but sometimes the smell just turns me off. I have no idea why. There were many different kinds of fish, along with rays, eels, crabs, and lobsters. It was fun watching Jaime work too with his enormous camera with the many different attachments. Back in Guatemala he is actually a semi-professional photographer.

There is only one major beach right in Essaouira but another that you would need to grab either a taxi or bus to. According to the owner of our hostel, the latter one is the better of the two as the water tends to be cleaner. We ended up doing a day at each. The first day, we, along IMG_7274with two Aussies and another bloke from America, went to the beach by bus. Still no sunburn from that. I certainly agree with the owners recommendation though. The one that you need to bus/taxi to is definitely nicer than the one right in Essaouira, which we visited on the second day.

We happened to be in Essaouira at the same time as the Champions League Final between FC Barcelona and Manchester United so the group of us went out to a little restaurant/bar to watch it. Half the place was cheering for Man U and the other half, myself included, was cheering for FC Barca. I was quite thrilled when Barca won. Sadly, one of the guys had to leave early as he wasn’t feeling well from a kebab he had had earlier that day.

I followed later that night. And somehow, I got hit a lot harder. I spent most of the night and theIMG_7272 entire next day either praying to the porcelain god or laying on the couch/hammock/bed sleeping. I barely managed to get myself up and outside to buy my ticket all the way to Casablanca. But I did. Thank goodness.

Essaouira is rarely on peoples radars when they travel to Morocco. At least, it wasn’t on mine. Lots of people view Morocco in terms of its big cities. But for the lucky few of us, backpackers, surfers, bohemians, and the like, Essaouira is a welcome retreat from the chaos of those cities.

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